Happy March, all. I had a different blog planned for this month, but once again the world is burning. Once again, I find my mind straying as I worry about my loved ones overseas. It’s not easy being a creative in these times. It feels like each time we get our heads above water, each time we get a breath of sweet, fresh air, we get pulled under again.
Once again, I’m struggling to fight through the anxiety plaguing my mind. Some days, it feels impossible to focus on my writing projects with everything that’s been going on. I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted. I’d love to sleep for a week straight, but I can barely manage six hours a night lately. My mind is a mess, a swirling vortex of chaotic thoughts and negative emotions.
I’m irritable. I’m tired, and I’m running on caffeine and fumes. Since my mood’s been in the crapper, I’m going to go over some of my fictional pet peeves, and things you won’t find in my stories.
Fictional Pet Peeves
If you’ve been following my blog, then you know I’ve mentioned some of my pet peeves in the past. I’m not going over those again. If you want to read about them, you can find the detailed list in my March 2020 writing life blog.
Cliffhangers. Some people love them. Some people hate them. I fall in with the latter of the two groups. Authors sometimes use cliffhangers as a way of enticing readers into buying the next book in their series. In my case, the opposite rings true. If a writer ends the first book with a cliffhanger, I’m not buying the next book.
The first book in a series should be able to stand on its own, and it should be able to sell without employing cliffhangers. Cliffhangers feel like a cheap and gimmicky ploy. It almost feels like the writer doesn’t know how—or doesn’t want to write an intriguing ending that will hook readers and leave them wanting more.
I prefer my endings to be wrapped up as neatly as possible. Now, that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be an overlap in plot within a series. I expect that, and I’m good with that. What I’m not okay with is when the main plot is just left dangling in the fucking wind until the next book.
You won’t find cliffhangers in any of my books. I hate them and refuse to use them. I often describe my books as standalones with series potential.
Meaningless Death. Nothing irks me more than when an author kills off a beloved character for shock value. What’s even more infuriating is when they bring that character back from the dead without any repercussions. If you’ve ever watched The Vampire Diaries, then you know what I’m talking about.
The resurrection trope is often found in fantasy and paranormal fiction. A major character will die, and then another character will resurrect them using some form of magic later down the road. Not only does their death feel insignificant, but I feel like I got duped as a reader. It’s like the author just wanted to evoke an emotional reaction out of me and nothing more.
But that’s not the only problem with this trope. If magic can reverse something as severe as death with no repercussions, then magic appears to be a cure-all for any situation. Limitless magic sways into the territory of Deus Ex Machina. Deus Ex Machina is a plot device that’s used to solve impossible conflicts via unforeseen methods, events, powers, or people.
If you’re going to use the resurrection trope, have there be some consequences, for fuck’s sake. A character just came back to the land of the living. There should be some downsides to their resurrection. Maybe they found peace in the afterlife and your selfish character just yanked them out of their happy place. Or maybe the afterlife was pure torture and hell. They should be emotionally impacted at the very least. Give their death and reanimation some meaning. If a character’s death and resurrection doesn’t serve the plot or character arc, then maybe you shouldn’t include it.
In my world, it’s all about balance. Resurrection spells can have severe consequences. Not only do they impair the spellcaster(s), but they also negatively affect the resurrected character, and the world around them. It’s not something my fictional people take lightly. If you’ve read Daniel’s blog, then you got a tiny glimpse into how death and reanimation work. You can’t bring someone back without some serious repercussions. Now, as for reincarnation, that’s another ballgame. Reincarnation and multiple lives are part of the natural order and have their own cycles. That’s all I’m saying about that.
Lack of Research. When writing about any topic you’re not familiar with, you need to do your homework. This is especially true when writing outside of your own cultural experiences. It’s easy to perpetuate harmful stereotypes and turn readers against you.
Polish culture, lore, and mythology are things that many writers screw up, and it’s easy to fuck up. That’s because Polish culture is similar to other Slavic cultures, especially Russian culture. The languages even sound alike, and sometimes the only distinction between the lore and mythology is the spelling. The infamous Baba Jaga is a perfect example of this.
The tale of the old, deformed witch in the woods who ate children is something I grew up with. My mom always cautioned me to be on my best behavior, or Baba Jaga would show up and punish me. But that wasn’t the only story I grew up with. There are many more tales, and I could write several blogs about them, but I won’t. I’m going to save those for my books.
Anyway, as I was saying spelling and accuracy are important. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen names misspelled, where authors use the Russian or Ukrainian spelling for their Polish characters. I’ve also seen misspellings of food and drinks. By the way, pierogi is already plural, there is no need to add an “s” at the end. So, stop it.
I’ve also read a couple of stories where drinks and food were consumed incorrectly—yes, this is a thing. You need to do your research. I know many people just hop on Google, click a couple of links, and think it’s good enough. It’s not. There are two problems with simple Google searches. One, many websites aren’t wholly accurate when it comes to Polish customs and lore. Two, Google cannot and will not replace authentic experiences. In fact, no amount of research can capture the true heart of Polish culture. It’s our experiences and our voices that give these stories authenticity. We live them. We are them. It’s why I love including Polish customs, lore, and mythology in my stories.
If you’re writing about Polish culture, or any culture you’re unfamiliar with, use care and caution. And most of all, do your fucking homework. I know I’m repeating myself, but it needs repeating.
Just a friendly reminder that these opinions are my own and are purely subjective.
Nick’s blog is up, feel free to give it a read if you haven’t already. I’ve also posted a new text exchange between Nick and Raichel, which you can find under the Life Bites section.
The updated spring blog schedule has been posted. The next character blog will be Karina’s and it will be posted on Friday, April 8th. The next writing life blog will be on Friday, May 13th.
So, I have a lot going on in my personal life, and with these looming deadlines, I needed to cut back on my blogs this year. Each month will feature either a character or writing life blog, but never both within the same month. That means that not every character will have a blog this year. I’m just going to stick with the major players in Nick and Karina’s book. As much as I’d love to write a blog for each fictional person, I just don’t have the time to do so.
That’s all I have for you today. As always, stay safe and stay healthy. Until next time.
© Copyright 2022 Amelia Kayne | All Rights Reserved